As Colin McRae celebrated victory on the RAC Rally - becoming Britain's first World Rally Champion in the process - the Sony-backed Volkswagen team and Flying Finn driver Tapio Laukkanen were enjoying success of their own: fourth place in the Formula 2 category of the rally.

It was a triumph for the Milton Keynes-based Volkswagen team after four days and more than 1,400 miles of driving, including 28 stages on the treacherous forest tracks of England, Scotland and Wales.

The Sony/Revolution Wheels/Dunlop-sponsored Golf barely missed a beat throughout the event. The only incidents of note were a late-rally gear selection problem, a bent rear beam caused by a brush with a rock on one of the second-day stages and a mishap with the on-board fire extinguisher, which was accidentally triggered by a startline marshal moments before the start of stage 16. That incident alone cost 26-year-old Laukkanen and his co-driver Risto Mannisenmaki a minute in lost time and, without the setback, they could have finished third of the F2 runners.

A big success for the Volkswagen team was the new British-made Dunlop forest tyre, being rallied for the first time in this country after success in the Finnish national championship. "The tyres were superb throughout," said Laukkanen. The 'Colour Concept' Golf GTi 16V - prepared by SBG Sport of Daventry - was "reliable, quick and superb to drive", added the Finn.

"This has been the hardest rally Ive driven. The 1000 Lakes Rally at home in Finland is tough, but there the roads are much smoother. I am delighted with the Golf's performance here - it's going to be a very good rally car next year and I'm looking forward to my next outing."

Tapio was pleased with his overall progress: "The most important thing for me is how much this rally is going to help me next year. Getting to know these stages will make it much easier for me both in the British Championship and on the RAC Rally next year."

Next outing for Laukkanen and the Sony Golf GTi comes on January's Riihimaki Rally in Finland. First round of the Mobil 1/Top Gear RACMSA British Rally Championship is the Rally of Wales in March.

Nick Berry, Product Marketing Manager for Volkswagen, said: "This is an excellent start to our new rallying partnership with Sony and Tapio Laukkanen and bodes well for the 1996 British Championship season..."

1995 NETWORK Q RAC RALLY Final Formula 2 placings (provisional)

1 Gwyndaf Evans/Howard Davies (Ford), 5h 42m 07s (6th overall); 2 Jarmo Kytolehto/Arto Kapanen (Nissan), 5h 45m 19s (8th o/a); 3 Alain Oreille/Jack Boyere (Renault), 5h 50m 40s (10th o/a); 4 Tapio Laukkanen/R Mannisenmaki (Volkswagen), 5h 52m 28s (12th o/a); 5 Robbie Head/Terry Harryman (Renault), 5h 59m 23s (15th o/a); 6 Stig Blomqvist/Benny Melander (Skoda), 6h 08m 03s (21st o/a), etc.

Volkswagen rallying: